Phaselis Turkey, Footsteps of Alexander.

by Steven Sklifas
Ancient Theatre. Phaselis. Turkey.

Ancient Phaselis is delightfully and somewhat romantically set on a small pine forested promontory that extends into the inviting waters of the Turquoise coast in Southern Turkey (Antalya Province).

Phaselis was founded around 690 BC by Dorian Greek settlers from Lindos, a settlement on the Greek Island of Rhodes.

According to legend, the founding colonists met a shepherd called Sylarbras and inquired about purchasing the entire peninsular. The enterprising Shepard suggested he was willing to sell and the Greeks offered him a supply of barley bread or dried smoked fish. It is said that the shepherd chose the fish.

It is believed that the patron deity of Phaselis was Athena, Greek Goddess of war and wisdom and the city was famed in antiquity for its Temple dedicated to Athena, (now in ruins).

According to legend the Temple of Athena was said to have housed the famous bronze pointed spear of Achilles, the Homeric Hero.

Phaselis was a member of the prestigious Lycian league for most of its long history although it was considered by some ancient scribes as perhaps a Pamphylia city due to its Greek foundations , lack of Lycian tombs and inscriptions and its location near the border of Pamphylia (ancient Greek settled geo political region).

Blessed with three natural harbours, Phaselis become a major commercial seaport within the Mediterranean region and was renowned for its shipyards and ship building. The city became a major exporter of timber, rose oil and other natural resources with helped it prosper and even minted and issued its own coins in the 5th century BC.

It is believed that the patron deity of Phaselis was Athena, Greek Goddess of war and wisdom and the city was famed in antiquity for its Temple dedicated to Athena, (now in ruins).

Phaselis was dominated by the Persians around the 6th century BC who were invading the whole region (Southern Turkey) during that time.

Phaselis was eventually liberated by the Athenians in 469 BC and for a while became part of the Delian League. The Persians returned again for another crack at domineering the region, however this was to end with the emergence  of Alexander the Great.

Alexander arrived and liberated Phaselis in 333 BC on his march to Persia. He was warmly welcomed by an offering of a golden crown by the residents.

Alexander made base at Phaselis for the winter of that year, which elevated the city’s importance and prestige throughout the Mediterranean.

In 129 AD whilst under Roman rule Emperor Hadrian visited the city which confirmed the status, wealth and importance of the city.

Phaselis prosperity continued into the Byzantine period, however its flame was eventually extinguished by the end of the 11th century AD due to the constant plundering by pirates and Arabs invaders.

All Images, Text and Content are Copyright Steven Sklifas

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